Thursday, 22 March 2012
Trayvon and the bullies
There’s something profoundly depressing about living in a neighborhood where bullies get away with lording it over people as the heartbreaking Trayvon Martin slaying reminds us. But it’s easy to forget how much bullying is an everyday part of our world and how happy our biped species is to go along with it when one belongs to the bullying team rather than the bullied.
Bullying in the form of chattel slavery is an organic part of our national history, so it should not surprise us that the systematic intimidation of black youth is woven into the fabric of everyday life. As I never tire of harping about, here in liberal New York City the police are authorized to bully black and Hispanic teen males regularly through the use of the ‘stop-and-frisk’ procedures that wise Mayor Bloomberg constantly endorses.
And this harassment of the city’s minority teens via 700,000 race-based police stops per year only thrives because the comfy residents of the middle-class white neighborhoods are down with it. If THEIR kids were getting treated like criminals every time they left the house, Obama-loving Upper West Siders would be having fits.
And it would stop.
But there’s a deeper level of bullying that we continue to endorse or tolerate unconsciously, reflected in the bizarre campaign against Iran for daring to having a civilian nuclear industry as permitted under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to which it is a party. (Its supposedly worried neighbors, the nuclear-armed Israelis, have not.) Non-proliferation is sometimes dressed up as a short-term goal leading eventually to the reduction or even elimination of nuclear weapons entirely. This recent piece in the London Review of Books suggests that if you believe that, there’s a nice bridge for sale a few miles from here.
The United States first discovered nuclear weapons and remains the only country in history to drop them on defenseless civilians. I’m told that was a pretty terrifying event for those on the receiving end, not that anyone would dare use the T-word now to describe it. While campaigning relentlessly against any unfriendly states daring to acquire nuke capabilities, Mr Nobel Peace Prize himself signed off on another $85 billion to ‘modernize’ our own nuclear arsenal over the next ten years so that we can continue to rattle them at anyone who might want to acquire nukes without U.S. permission. This is considered normal, but really it’s just bullying on the world stage.
Not that this is anything new in biped history stretching back several tens of thousands of years. It’s just a sad corrective to the idea that human beings have evolved much when we see the death of a 17-year-old kid who went out for a bag of candy and died because the bullies in charge belong to a different tribe.
Posted by Tim Frasca at 12:31